The All-American slurps
The short story, The All-American Slurps by Lensey Namioka talks about a Chinese family that has recently moved to America and the challenges they face adapting to the new environment. More importantly, it focuses on food etiquette whose difference is brought about by variations in culture. It provides a clear view of the differences in Chinese and American cuisines and the mannerisms that accompany the eating of these cuisines. The story gives instances where these differences are brought out in the form of dinner settings. However, its ending indicates an improvement in adapting to western norms by the Chinese family and an understanding of Chinese food culture by the American friends they encounter.
The key points in the story to which I agree are the clear lines drawn between the American and Chinese cultures. It is obvious that the author seems to lean more on the differences arising from the food aspect. For instance, the variation in the way the Americans eat their celery raw while the Chinese eat theirs cooked as brought out in the dinner hosted by the Gleasons. The title of the story itself is drawn from a comparison between the American and Chinese slurp. While the Chinese slurp their soup, Americans slurp on their milkshakes. These we learn at the end after the dinner hosted buy the Lin family who invited their neighbors the Gleasons. My personal experience makes me relate to the challenge the Lin’s faced in trying to master the English language. Though not as immigrants, people at times have to communicate with others, who do not understand their language. However, the situations may not be as witty as those presented by the author. This is because others may invite animosity from the offended party. At least the American citizens were somewhat understanding towards the Lin’s.
The narrator expresses her tribulations of the way she is worried about her image and not conforming to the western manner of dressing. This time, writer is trying to include all the characters into the context of her story. This style of incorporating individual aspects of the story through her characters is truly refreshing. She analyzes how each member of the family is coping with their new environment. This is helpful in bringing out different themes though within the context of the story.
I particularly like the part at the Lakeview Restaurant, and the way it brought everything to a standstill, not forgetting the embarrassment it caused the narrator. I feel that the story has managed to evoke vivid imagination from me as the reader on what challenges immigrant families face, even better in a hilarious way. She has taken us through the progress made by the Lin family as they settle in America. We are able to visualize every detail of the story, which is important as it helps the reader understand it in a personalized way.
At the end of the story where the Lin’s host dinner for a group of friends, we read about the culmination of their Americanization process. This is especially so because it occurs at a time when they feel confident enough to display their new mannerisms to others. In a repetition of events, the Gleasons experience the same difficulty with Chinese table etiquette as the Lin’s had at the beginning of the story. This point is again driven home by the writer in a superb manner. Succinctly, I have a positive response to this well written short story. I like everything from the themes presented by the writer, the way she put them across to her style of writing. However, I would have wished for a longer piece to illustrate more experiences of the Lin family.